If you want to drive more sales, build a great reputation and convince people of your expertise, you need to start featuring customer reviews on your website. Reviews play a huge role in making a purchase decision, and according to PeopleClaim, 70% of customers read online reviews before buying anything. We suggest that you encourage your customers to leave reviews, but you shouldn’t directly reward customers.
The drawback of rewarding customers
First and foremost, we don’t recommend incentivizing their feedback by offering a discount or reward to everyone who leaves a review on your website. This can easily undermine your reputation and can be illegal in many countries. When people leave reviews because of a discount, it’s easy to spot. People are really good at noticing unauthentic reviews, and these will scare away your visitors. For instance, in the US, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) published a guideline regarding Truth in Advertising, which says that any company must disclose if they have compensated their customers giving online testimonials or endorsements in any way. Some enterprises treat this issue seriously, but many small companies don’t regard it as a real concern and keep giving coupons for reviews.
In 2013, the Attorney General fined 19 businesses in New York for buying, faking or incentivizing reviews, ordering them to pay a collective $350,000 in fines. Blumenthal of localu.org mentions:
“An under-reported aspect of the settlement was a $10,000 fine levied on a tooth-whitening company in New York City that had been offering a no-strings-attached $10 coupon off a future whitening in return for any review, good or bad. I spoke with the owner of the company and, while he thought what he was doing was OK, the cost of a defense was substantial AND the NY State Attorney General had targeted him so his chances of prevailing, even at great cost, were small.”
In the US, if you or your employees in your practice are offering anything at all in exchange for reviews, you are breaching the law, and have the risk of being fined by the FTC.
What to do instead of incentivizing your customers to leave reviews
We recommend that you should be more sophisticated regarding incentives. First, you should simply have great customer service. This is actually one of the best “marketing tools.” People will be happy and then happily share their experiences with others. You should think about the customer’s journey and optimize it according to it. After their purchase, you can send a follow-up instantly, asking them to leave a review on your page. Include a link to the product page to make it easy for them to find the right page. Also, try to remove as many barriers out of their way, allowing them to leave a review as fast as they can. Any amount of form filling is going to put off most reviewers. For instance, when they’re already logged in, there’s no need for them to provide any identification again.
Another idea is to run a monthly prize drawing for all customers who leave a review. This doesn’t have to be overtly on your site, but you could mention it in upsell emails or by posting a flyer in the product packaging. You can also send them free stuff or exclusive content to reward customers. One of the most powerful incentives for customers is status above their peers. For example, music magazine NME rewards frequent commenters with a star beside their name and a “Top commenter” title. This strategy can also be used to incentivize product reviews and reward loyal customers as well. This process can be more of a tough challenge for large-size companies. Here, personalized customer relationships and customer service employees sharpen this issue. They are striving for more market share, scale, and efficiency on a daily basis. However, the fundamentals are the same, and they should keep that in mind.
All in all, you should never reward customers with monetary benefits, but you have a broad range of other incentives to use to make them more active.